Broadcast Guidelines

Update: The expanded guidelines have now been implemented, see: [STYLE-2421] Expand 'Broadcast' styleguide - MetaBrainz JIRA

I’ve been doing an overhaul of the Broadcast style guidelines, which a lot of people have found unclear over the years.

See the current guideline here
See my proposed changes here

Please include suggestions with your feedback. If something isn’t ideal, but no better alternative is suggested/found, I will ask reosarevok if we can still go ahead (so we all can at least proceed with consistency, if not perfection)

If this is all tl;dr, the major change/addition here is the ‘Broadcast Collection Guidelines’ section, skip to that.


  • Scope
    Added text:
    “This includes reissues or collections of recordings originally created for broadcast, for instance a complete series released on CD.”
    Refer also to forum discussion here

  • Release group secondary type/s
    Split into its own section (from ‘release group type’), and notes added:
    -"If the show is a recording of a live performance add “Live”. Studio recordings that were recorded over multiple takes and then edited together are not considered live, even if a ‘studio audience’ was present (for instance, to capture applause).
    -If the show is primarily an audio drama, with multiple people acting out a script, add “Audio Drama”.
    -If the show is mainly people talking, and doesn’t have the secondary types of audio drama or audiobook added, add “spokenword”.

  • Release name (format)
    Added ‘[, Series 1234, ]’ to the naming format.
    I split the notes regarding the syntax into bulletpoints, and made some changes and some additions:
    -"YYYY-MM-DD is the date that particular program was first broadcast."
    -"Only include series and/or show numbers if each individual show has these. You can generally find them on the distributor’s website.
    -Series should be replaced with whatever term the program uses, for instance ‘Season’."

  • Release name (examples)
    The examples previously didn’t link to anything - added releases and links for all examples, a couple of new ones.
    They are now:
    2014-09-04: Ask Me Another #325, “What’s the Magic Word?”: The Bell House, Brooklyn, NY, USA
    2012-06-30: Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!: State Theatre, Cleveland, OH, USA
    1988-01-24: Fear on Four, Series 1, #4, “Music Lovers”
    2012-06-16: Car Talk #1224, “You Sap”
    2012-07-07: The Writer’s Almanac
    If you think any of these MB entries have been entered incorrectly, or could be improved, please let me know.

  • Artist credit (a)
    One artist credit example (MB release) currently reads:
    1 “The Writer’s Almanac: American Public Media (while Garrison Keillor is the host, he is not the primary writer)”
    I’ve changed it to:
    2 “The Writer’s Almanac: American Public Media with Garrison Keillor’”

  • Artist credit (b)
    I have added a new set of examples:
    If the program is primarily a performance of a written work, list the author and the narrators/performers. Examples:
    Escape Pod: [author] read by [narrator]
    Fear on Four: [author] starring [performer] & [performer]

  • Format
    I was a derp and was trying to add a broadcast airing - in other words, the format I was looking for would have been ‘radio waves’. It has been clarified by reosarevok that we don’t do that (which I think is a shame, but that’s for another thread), we only store ‘releases’ in a download or CD sense, and so forth. To help out the other derps with this question I have added:
    "This will usually be digital media (podcasts, radio station website streams and downloads).
    If you don’t know how or if it was distributed, only that it was aired, leave the format blank (as well as the release date)."
    Slightly repeat of the ‘release date’ section, but I hope they are complimentary.

  • Broadcast Collection Guidelines
    This is the big one! View it in the wiki draft here.
    This formalises the brief discussion started here.
    To summarize, adding individual episodes/shows (using the broadcast guidelines) to MB is a royal pain in the ass. It currently would take months to add a single lengthy program (are there any 100+ episode programs correctly added to the DB?). So, over time a precedent has emerged where MB editors ‘group’ shows into series or program releases, for instance as grouped for streaming/download on distributor websites.
    This attempts to formalise this practice into the guidelines so that we can do it consistently, and in a way that is complimented by the existing broadcast guidelines - which may be annoying, but are still excellent.
    Please feedback on any aspect of this.

  • Series
    Added a section on collecting broadcast shows into program series:
    Broadcast releases of the same program can be collected in a series.
    Use the ‘Release Group’ series type, unless the series is additionally collecting an attribute that may be release-specific (for instance, shows/releases put out by a specific distributer).
    The same series can include both individual show releases and grouped releases.
    Fear on Four series
    Escape Pod series

If anybody has any good example releases that could be added for any of this please let me know, for instance some that have tricky or unique credits or titles.
Paging previous broadcast-discussers: @IvanDobsky @paulakreuzer @kellnerd @eloise_freya @Avamander @ROpdebee (if you’re more of a audio drama/audiobook person and accidentally got pulled in, you can ignore)


You’re right, I’m seeing this topic from the radio drama perspective mostly, but I’ll throw in my thoughts nevertheless.

I see this as follows: The primary type Broadcast covers spoken content as well as musical content, e.g. a live broadcast of a concert or an unplugged session, as long as the content was recorded for/by a radio broadcasting service/station. Then we have audio dramas and sometimes even audiobooks (rarer because readings are usually longer than abridged dramatised versions), broadcast in their entirety or in episodic format. Everything which doesn’t fit into these two categories (or three, if you also count musical content) and features a few people discussing a certain topic, i.e. podcasts (minus audio dramas which are labeled as podcasts, because podcasts are in), should be marked as Spokenword.

Oh, and I have to admit that I’ve generally disregarded the broadcast naming guidelines for the radio dramas which I’ve added so far… In my opinion they add too much clutter to be practical, especially for standalone radio dramas which have a clear title that is also used on CD releases (if they exist).
Sometimes the (usually generic) name of the show under which a standalone radio drama is broadcast changes with each repetition and hence is kind of irrelevant as it depends on the “branding” of the station at the time of the broadcast.

I also dislike the usage of quotes to wrap the real title, why don’t we just follow the standard approach for series numbering as everwhere else in MB?

  • <Series Title>: <Episode Title> for broadcasts which are generally released unnumbered, although they may be refered to by (in)official episode number sometimes. (This can be modeled by the “part of series” relationship numbering attribute.)
  • <Series Title> <Number>: <Episode Title> or <Series Title> #<Number>: <Episode Title> for broadcasts which are generally released numbered, where the number may have a prefix (such as “Episode” or “Part”) after a comma which follows what the broadcaster’s website or the cover art uses (if existing).
  • <Standalone Title> for non-episodic broadcasts, disregarding the random umbrella show name under which they are broadcast (and repeated).

Whether we really have to shoehorn the broadcast dates into the title is another question… Some broadcasts (especially very old ones) were never officially released, you can only get them from dubious sources (for which I’m not sure whether they should be added as release) or by having recorded them yourself. I would find it much more practical if we had a medium type “Broadcast” to cover live rips of broadcast programs which would then have the broadcast date as release date. This would also have the bonus effect that the earliest release date of the RG would contain the perceivedly correct date and not that of a later repetition which was available for download or a CD release.

Sorry for jumping around between different things, I guess I have a lot more to say about some of these topics and haven’t even addressed others from your post, but I really want to get this post finished for now :sweat_smile:

(not got a talky head on today, so quick response only)
Audio Drama usually means multiple actors in a play format. Audiobook is usually only one person reading from a page, so they will also read the commentary as well as the spoken parts.

“Broadcast” formats often end up being Digital Media as this is how someone has uploaded it. Often it will be a “direct from radio” recording. Of course, the older recordings from the “Time Before Digital” will have been to cassette tape, but even these are converted to MP3 for trading.

As well as The Goons, also check Hancock’s Half Hour. There are many BBC Radio series that should be in the database. The pattern that @eloise_freya created there makes a LOT of sense. It becomes a one page reference. Then alongside that we see the official releases on vinyl, tape and CD. They have their own RGs as they are usually “compilations”

I kinda agree with this, but sometimes you see quotes used on the track listing. Especially happens with Hitchhiker’s Guide as sections often get named after a line quoted from the drama. A chapter title should not be getting quotes added to it.

Where my OCD gets triggered is when you find part of a series is keyboard quotes, and later books have curly quotes. Painful to convert all of that to one style… :crazy_face:

One reason for dates in Release titles is so they can be sorted in a collection. Something like The Goons have some great resources to give us Recording Dates and Broadcast Dates. This is rare to find this level of detail. In those cases the Recording Date will be in the title as is usual standard for live recordings. Also not all shows have consistent titles. I only use a (First)Broadcast date if I have no recording date.

If some flexibility is to be allowed for Season\Series Episode\Chapter title swaps I can’t see anything too wrong for allowing some slight flex in other parts of these guidelines on a per-release basis. Some just plain have different naming which becomes part of the title…

Regarding this naming convention - I haven’t touched it, beyond adding ‘series’ to the syntax. I’m not keen to make retroactive changes at this stage, just expand on what’s there, so I wouldn’t touch this.

For what it’s worth, I didn’t really get it either, but I’ve since seen other sites using similar conventions for radio stuff so it’s made more sense (following some kind of established practice rather than MB inventing something weird)

Stuff like repeating the show name also makes a lot of sense when you think about people organizing broadcasts on a track basis (rather than the usual MB ‘album’ approach). A folder full of various broadcast recordings really benefits from the broadcast date and all the other stuff.

I don’t know what you mean about not adding the broadcast date because a broadcast wasn’t ‘released’? In that case it can be a standalone recording, and having the original broadcast date in the name is very useful indeed, and it aligns with ‘released’ broadcasts.
Edit: Maybe I should add a note re. ‘if it wasn’t released then add as a standalone recording’

With all that said… The new ‘grouped’ guidelines should hopefully make you and other MB editors happy!? No weird titles! No need to repeat show titles! Folder organization based! get yours today

Any examples of an audiobook + broadcast that you think are correctly entered? I suspect there’s something floating out there so I left the ‘except for in edge cases’ in, but I can’t think of what it could be…

Can anyone else weigh in on this? I still think broadcast makes this redundant, but it does differentiate from musical broadcasts.

I have given a slight nod to these in the new ‘grouped guidelines’, where it’s now outlined that you could group releases into series or programs (…as released on a distributors website, etc).

But I wouldn’t use them as an example because I suspect they include stuff that’s never officially been collected together in this manner and thus really should be a series without changing the very core definitions of these database entity types… The main thing is that you’ll hopefully find that nothing I’ve written mucks with them, and you could still stretch these guidelines to cover.

Appreciate all your other comments! Not sure if you’re suggesting any changes to the draft though (be specific if there’s something you want changed)

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I never spotted this bit before (in old guidelines):

If the show was recorded in front of a live studio audience, add “Live”.

Surprised by that as all old BBC comedy shows are in front of a live audience. That kinda the point of an audience, they tend to be living and breathing much of the time.

This bit needs expanding:

  • Only include series and/or show numbers if each individual show has these. You can generally find them on the distributor’s website.

Fan sites always have far more information on them. Distributors are just trying to sell old recordings. It is the fansites that really are the gold mine of information and usually much more trusted and checked.

Also in your draft “Grouped Release Guidelines” is borked. Links don’t link.


I’m not sure about that one either. I had left it because I wanted to avoid changing guidelines (as opposed to expanding).

I always assumed recorded in front of a live studio audience and then edited/cut up wouldn’t be ‘live’.

This is something I want to talk to @reosarevok about - I need a better idea of what’s expected in terms of ‘live’ across the database (I get confused with ‘live rehearsal’ and so on for music releases as well- usually no audience, just a rehearsal recording with no edits. And many other situations. Maybe the music live guideline can have a quick update too).

Also need to talk to him about whether we should ever set the ‘spoken word’ secondary type to broadcasts, which only @kellnerd has weighed in on. Did you have a thought on that @IvanDobsky?

I went to add this, but upon reflection realised: When ‘distributor’ is mentioned in this case, I think it’s talking about the original release source. e.g. a podcast is released explicitly as ‘season X’, ‘episode X’, or the BBC explicitly labelling their show upon release. Fan sites are of course amazing for artists/labels with big fan bases, but they might also divide things up into new (yet logical) groupings of their own, in which case I don’t think we would add this to the release name.
Then I realised this is a lot for a bulletpoint that is actually pretty self explanatory already :stuck_out_tongue:
So what do you think about the less hand-holdey:

  • Only include series and/or show numbers if each individual show has these.

Agree, editing and retakes can be the key here. I’ve never considered using that live flag for studio comedy before as it never happens outside of MB. More kept that for a live stage show on tour where there is no choice of a re-take. Never used it for a weekly series. A huge chunk of BBC comedy is “in front of a live studio audience” and often noted by the presenter of the show.

They always do refer to the audience as live and not the performers… :grin: The point being - it ain’t canned laughter.

Live is an interesting term. There is an opposite case of this where “Live” is the accepted norm. Performances like John Peel Sessions are played “Live” and recorded a day or two before the show. These then go out unedited and always accepted as “live”. Not just in MB, but industry wide. A band will play live in the studio without re-takes but the audience is often only a few engineers.

I think you have the gist of it there. If there is any hint of editing or re-takes, don’t call it live. It’s not really about the audience. It is how the performance is made. One take. Everyone playing. No edits. Just like when you play for your mates down the pub. There maybe only the barman and his dog, but it is still live.

If the show is 80% talking then I would assume it would be spoken word. Plenty of music concert that get broadcast, so two people in a studio talking would need the Spokenword flag used. Just the same as The Goons is Broadcast and Audio Drama.

Certainly for “less hand holdy” and more flexible. :+1: What it should not do is exclude a name that has been attached to a show after broadcast. Look at that Hancock site. It points out many broadcast shows didn’t have names. Then later they have grown to have common names to refer to them. Those accepted names need to be allowed somewhere, but if there is argument always fall back on the oldest name.

Part of MB’s mission is to bring some order to chaos. Catalogue to forgotten in a consistent way.

My responses are based on way too many hours of editing, but also from how these terms are used in the outside world. MB should not reinvent language used by collectors when trying to make guidelines clearer

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I nailed down @reosarevok to discuss some specific questions, this is his early feedback. I’m going to remind him to look at the whole thing again at some point, but this is where it’s heading if anyone has any thoughts in the meantime:

  • Should recorded in front of a live studio audience and then edited/cut up be ‘live’
    Reo thought that it makes sense for these to be live, but after discussion with Aerozol agreed that it might not be that useful in a broadcast context (where studio audience is a bit different to musical contexts)
    “If nobody who actually often edits broadcasts sees a point to having live for laugh-track audiences, then we should change that for sure”
    He mentioned that we can transclude this part separately/after if needed.

  • Having spoken word, audiobook, and interview secondary types
    Reo thought we should have these were appropriate.
    I will certainly take out the line saying to usually not do this, and may indeed replace it with a line saying to use them where appropriate (Reo said to specify some examples for ‘spoken word’ and ‘interview’ types, but I’m concerned about this being hard to pin down/that giving examples will cause people to take the examples too literally, I will see if I can find a good way to write it)
    Aerozol tried to argue that there’s no case where we would use ‘audiobook’, but nobody was convinced : )

  • Added ‘[, Series 1234, ]’ to the naming format
    “seems sensible”

  • [broadcast type] Includes reissues or collections of recordings originally created for broadcast, for instance a complete series released on CD.
    “seems sensible”

  • ‘Groupings’ (e.g. series or seasons as release groups)
    Reo had extreme reservations, that we are giving two different ways to enter the same thing. That it would be better to pick one, or encourage people to replace the grouped option with individual releases when they have time.
    Aerozol stuck to his guns and I think brought Reo round? Points were: Editors already do this. Websites/pages often do have series or seasons on the same page which can be interpreted as a release - and in those cases they were often still broadcast and could have been ripped/taped by someone (requiring their own release). These guidelines don’t clash with the individual broadcast recordings ones. It will bring some order without breaking all the existing grouped releases/what editors already do.
    However reo is going to check the guideline over to make sure everything looks okay.

  • Also Reo reminded me (again) not to use the official wiki to draft things :grimacing:

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I personally don’t think this part is a good idea, as it seems to run counter to all other discussion on release groups I’ve seen, “in general, if the recordings are pretty much the same, it should be the same release group” or something along those lines.

a podcast example I know of would be episode 1 of Welcome to Night Vale. I’ve listened to it several times over the years, and each time I downloaded the recording, it had a different intro, often promoting an upcoming tour or a new podcast that the Night Vale folks were starting. if I were editing this, I’d put several different releases into the Episode 1 release group, and if a season or series was all in one release group, that could get pretty messy pretty quickly, since Night Vale has over 220 episodes.

I think the ideal solution for this is a release group series for a series/season

This guideline isn’t explicitly saying to group a podcast, which I think isn’t always practical (edit: actually, it kind of is. Maybe I should remove ‘podcast’ from the following example?). The example given is:
“For instance, the BBC often releases broadcasts and podcasts on their website, grouped into programs and series. CD releases also commonly collect series or programs.”
What it does let us do, as a side-effect, is give us guidelines we can apply to releases where users have entered everything into one release, and make sure they don’t clash with ‘correctly’ entered single broadcasts (e.g. specify what recording to use and how to title it).

This was brought up by reo as well, but I think this is more like singles vs albums, which we do separate. e.g. each broadcast was broadcast on X date, but may have been collected on a web page or a CD collection on a later date. Users may be tagging or searching for the broadcast or the ‘album’.

I think we can all agree that this would be great, but it’s just not possible. And editors already do it in groupings, because it’s not possible.

I spent SO LONG entering this example for the guideline:

Tell you what, you add the rest of those using the individual release guidelines, in the next few days (so I can finally tag my local versions!), and I’ll happily cede this part of the guideline :wink:

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I’m having another pass at the ‘grouped’ guidelines, to less implicitly allow bogus releases, but still give us a way of dealing with them (and of course the many legitimate cases where multiple broadcasts are collected into a CD, or a download).

This only changes the introduction, which sets the scene for what a ‘grouped release’ is, as I don’t believe anyone had issue with the actual guidelines.


For shows (episodes) grouped into series or programs. These, alongside their individual component releases, may be added as a release.

For instance, the BBC often releases broadcasts and podcasts on their website, grouped into programs and series. CD releases also commonly collect series or programs.

Unless specified below, follow the Broadcast release guidelines on this page for these releases.


For shows (episodes) grouped into series or programs. For instance, a collection released on CD, or as a download.

*Unless specified below, follow the Broadcast release guidelines on this page for these releases.


So something to possibly muddy the water a bit; and might end up being its own thread.

There are a number of Event entities in the database, numerous added by myself, that can be considered broadcast events.

These are almost entirely entities that exist where the artist(s) are performing songs in front of an audience and would not have an existing traditional event entity to cover them.

For example, an episode of Top of the Pops or Saturday Night Live where members of the public could attend but there wouldn’t be an exclusive event for them. Whereas say a channels coverage of a large festival such as Glastonbury or Woodstock, they would already have Festival Event entities for them.

I’ve been “hashing” out how to document these in a free-form sort of way, but have kind of come to the following rules:

  • The broadcast must have a live audience, if its just a performer in a television studio performing to television studio staff, it wouldn’t meet the criteria
  • The linked artists must perform their song (including lip syncing) within the broadcast, if the artist only appears in an interview/speaking entity then add this as an annotation. If only an archive clip, music video or similar is included then the artist shouldn’t be linked.
  • On that note, if an artist appears in a “hosting” position then they can be linked with the host relationship type
  • The date of the event should be the earliest known date of the broadcast
  • The title of the event should be [Show name] and then some kind of identifier, either [Series Number.Episode Number] or [Date of Broadcast]
  • A series should be created for the show, and all relevant events linked back to it in order of broadcast date
  • If someone has made a bootleg copy of the broadcast, or the artist has managed to officially release a recording from the broadcast onto a release, it should be linked to the event entity

This really only applies at the moment to Television Broadcasts, but could be adapted for other mediums.

Like I said, not sure if this needs to be part of this documentation or another.

One issue we have at the moment is there is no Event Type for Broadcast/TV Show etc.

Some examples of the ones I’ve worked on:

That makes sense to me, but I wouldn’t include it in the page for broadcast releases - I don’t think I would look for it there. A link to it for sure!

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I’ve made further updates, mainly integrating @reosarevok’s feedback:

I rolled back all my edits to the broadcast wiki page, and am now storing my suggestions on my own wiki page, as I should have done to begin with!

‘Grouped’ intro
As discussed, I have made this less implicitly encouraging bogus groupings. Ends up shorter and better anyway:

For shows (episodes) grouped into series or programs. For instance, a collection released on CD, or as a download.

Secondary types
180 on this, used to say ‘don’t add spokenword’, now says ‘do add spokenword’. Removed ‘don’t use audiobook’. I also updated all the releases in the examples to have ‘spokenword’ secondary types… flippin heck. Is now:

If the show is primarily an audio drama, add “Audio Drama”. Most non-music shows should have “spokenword” added. “Interview” is also a common broadcast secondary type.

Track Titles
Added this little bit:

If no titles are given, add [: Part #] to the end each track title.

Crap, another question - if the audio drama secondary type is set, do we also add spokenword?
Also if anybody has a MB example of a nicely entered musical broadcast, let me know, it’s really lacking from the examples.

Generally I thought it was agreed we don’t. An Audio Drama is spoken by the implication. If you have an Audio recording it is unlikely to be a mime show. All Audio dramas are spoken. Same as all Audiobooks are spoken.
Examples: The Goons - MusicBrainz, Doctor Who - MusicBrainz,

(I go back to those examples as I know they were thrashed out via the forums many years back)

Spokenword seems more about lectures, stand-up comedy, Interviews, etc?

Douglas Adams is good as he hits all those corners. Lectures, Audiobooks, Broadcast, Audio Dramas. Literally nothing is musical on that page. Which is why I remember older decisions said Spokenword was not needed as it is clearly implied here. And allows the interviews to be separated from the audiobooks\Audio dramas, etc.


Thanks, I’ve clarified that in the guideline proposal:

If the show is a recording of a live performance - not counting studio recordings with a ‘studio audience’ - add “Live”.

If the show is primarily an audio drama, with multiple actors performing a script, add “Audio Drama”.

If the show is mainly people talking, and doesn’t have the secondary types of audio drama or audiobook added, add “spokenword”.

Note that this still means that most of the broadcasts I add (podcasts, radio shows that aren’t dramas or audiobooks) will have the secondary type ‘spokenword’ added (which is new for me) - this has been discussed a bit above, mainly relevant is the answers from the style lead here.

If you have a different view on this please feedback, because I’d like to submit the guidelines soon :+1:

Your “Live” comment is a little confusing. As you will confusing people by saying that you can’t be live if there is a studio audience. There needs to be a better term found for that. Maybe reference the “all in one take” style of live, no editing.

Podcasts kinda feel like the point is someone is speaking to you. So I see the logic there to include “Spokenword” if it is mainly talking, but I have no examples of this. That seems a whole different discussion.

Audiobooks and Audio Dramas are literally a category you need when organising your audio files.

There are some CDs on MB that I look after that are the recordings of live radio broadcasts with a small number of people in the studio… Currently, they are marked as Live…

I would like to have a guideline covering when no appropriate program name exists (for example, a guest DJ program), the most common is to use the radio station instead.
2020-01-21: NTS Radio (not 2020-01-21: Merzbow).
Sometimes the station should be added for clarity when the artists are representing an artist collective or record label for a radio guest mix, example: 2021-07-15: Surf Gang, NTS Radio.